Irvine will pay $285 million to purchase the All American Asphalt plant in the northern part of the city — if city leaders greenlight a purchasing agreement next week.

In February, Irvine leaders announced plans to purchase the asphalt plant on Jeffrey Road — the focus of increased complaints from residents about odors — and create the Gateway Preserve, an approximately 700-acre open space preserve with hiking and biking trails.

Councilmembers will consider a $285 million price tag for the plant on Tuesday, April 11. That price is “well in excess” of how much plots of land typically go for in Irvine, according to city documents, but the amount is what All American Asphalt was comfortable selling for, City Manager Oliver Chi said.

“All American Asphalt plant was not interested in selling, and they are only selling right now because we’ve been able to reach a price that they feel is commensurate with the long-term profits that the asphalt plant would have generated,” said Chi.

A spokesperson for All American Asphalt did not respond to a request for comment.

The funding for the purchase of the plant is set to come from a “concurrent deal” the city made with Irvine Company. In the deal, the Irvine Company will give the city approximately 475 acres of land, with about 80 acres (worth around $330 million, according to city documents) allocated for housing development.

The sale of the properties is expected to cover the cost of purchasing the asphalt plant.

If councilmembers move ahead with the arrangement next week, the asphalt plant must cease all production activity by Nov. 15.

And residents who live in surrounding areas are rejoicing that the plant that “completely disrupted our lives” could potentially shut down, said Kevin Lien, who lives two miles from the plant in Eastwood Village.

Related links

Irvine announces plan to buy, close asphalt plant and make a preserve
Irvine leaders to consider agreement with All American Asphalt for plan to relocate
Odors from asphalt plant in Irvine spark frustration, fear, anger

Odors from the plant are particularly strong in the nights and early mornings, Lien said. Every night, he checks his hood ventilation and laundry room ventilation systems to ensure odors won’t seep through.

“We basically keep our house shut. It’s all sealed, and (we) never open windows,” Lien said.

When he first heard the purchase price for the asphalt plant, Lien said he was “bewildered and shocked” because “the number is quite astronomical.” But he is hopeful that the city is able to offset the costs through the sale of the developed property.

“Our priority is you got to get rid of (the asphalt plant) because every day it’s in production, it’s polluting the air around here and continuing to emit the poisons,” Lien said. “Once that’s taken care of, then we can address mitigation that needs to be done.”

The plant has been open since the early 1990s and predates development in Irvine’s northern area.

Irvine would purchase an insurance policy — with a cost between $400,000 and $1 million, according to city documents — that covers the asphalt plant site, if the purchasing agreement is approved next week, to cover the city in case there is “a large cost associated with cleanup or mediation,” Chi said.

The purchase agreement will also be “as-is,” according to the city, meaning Irvine will be unable to “perform complete due diligence analysis” or an “in-depth on-site investigation.”

Because of this, the extent of the environmental damage to the land, or potential costs arising from damage, is unclear, and the plant might not be able to be converted to a park as hoped, city documents say.

Irvine filed a public nuisance lawsuit in 2020 and has explored options for relocating or even condemning the plant. The All American Asphalt team, Chi said, is concerned the city just wanted to gain access to the site to do testing and bolster its lawsuit and therefore was opposed to Irvine assessing the conditions of the land ahead of the sale.

In addition to the purchasing agreement, staffers are also asking councilmembers for $500,000 from Irvine’s General Fund for engineering surveys, design, site planning, utilities planning, market study and traffic analysis on the land donated by the Irvine Company plus the asphalt plant site.

If the purchasing agreement is approved, Chi estimates the timeline to get approvals to utilize the Gateway Preserve open space land, the environmental review process and the subsequent entitlement for the residential development land to take between 18 to 36 months.

For Denise Lo, who lives about 2 miles from the plant in the Orchard Hills community, that means he can breathe “with no concern in my mind.”

“It’s a very high price to pay, but compared to the health of the community members, the elders, the children — it is priceless,” Lo said.

The council meeting is set for Tuesday at 1 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Civic Center Plaza.

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